We started our Hypnobirthing journey with Hannah when I was about 25 weeks pregnant. At 26 weeks I learned that my baby had dropped in growth from the 20 week scan. She went from the 30th percentile to the 5th. I remember how worried and helpless I felt learning about the growth drop. I also felt very responsible, even though intellectually I knew that it was out of my control and I had done nothing to have caused the drop. I also recall feeling so sad when people commented that my bump was tiny and couldn’t believe that I was 30+ weeks pregnant later down the track.
I had to attend weekly scans for either growth or blood flow and then started also going to the hospital for CTG monitoring once per week from 28 weeks. Every appointment made me so anxious and I dreaded receiving the print out of the graphs after each scan as I could see that whilst she was still growing, she was dropping off the scale completely. In the meantime we were still attending the Hypnobirthing course, learning about labour and how to craft our low-intervention journey to meeting our baby.
At the start of my 35th week I saw the obstetrician who informed me that we would take the baby out at 36 weeks. I was not prepared for this at all as I thought we could leave her in until 42 weeks so as to get her on the growth chart! This also meant that I probably wouldn’t spontaneously labour as “take the baby out” did not sound like a natural pathway. I was really at a loss because the obstetrician had suggested a C-Section or an induction, both of which are considered to be significant interventions. In the end, I resolved to induce labour.
I felt comfortable with my decision after having spoken at length with Hannah about my dilemma. She assured me that the skills I had learned in Hypnobirthing would still be applicable to an induced labour or C-Section, both in the labour itself and the lead up by posing questions to the obstetrician. I was also at the point with my tiny passenger that I didn’t care in the end how she was delivered, I just wanted her to be ok, and as such, I was at ease with the fact that if mum or baby were showing signs of distress in labour, we would go for a C-Section.
4 days later, we went in to hospital to start the induction and I was put onto the synthetic oxytocin drip the following morning after the membrane was artificially ruptured. Three and a half hours later, I was holding my baby. The attending midwife was British and said that it was textbook Hypnobirthing.
We slow danced for an hour, then I spent time sitting on a fit ball slumped over the end of the bed for an hour or so. We used a TENS machine and I breathed through my surges by counting up to 4 and trying to double that on the exhale. I could visualise being drawn up the wave and knew that I would be down the other side of it before too long. I laboured lying on my left side cushioned by pillows for an hour with my husband still working the TENS machine. I knew that 8 hours had definitely not passed, and I remember the midwife coming in to adjust the telemetry pads. I politely requested that she not turn up the oxytocin and she politely responded that “I wasn’t there yet based on what she was seeing on the CTG”. In my head, I thought, I’ve done a good job of this but I’m quite uncomfortable now and if this is going to continue for another 5 hours and only get more intense, I’m going to need some relief. When she came back in, I asked for Fentanyl. She left the room to get her colleague, and once back in the room, asked me to roll over so that she could have a look at how things were going. Her response was, “Oh, you’re not having Fentanyl, you’re having a baby. She is one centimetre from coming out!”.
From there the atmosphere did change as we had honestly had such a personal and private experience with minimal interruption and then it switched to Go Time, with the obstetrician arriving, three more midwives in the room and the paediatrician at the door. I reflect on the final 10 or so minutes of labour being quite hectic whereas for the rest of the labour, I would have said I really was in control and calm. I did breathe that baby out and had visualised the lotus flower opening, just as the meditations encouraged me to, but having 7 people around you while you are doing so was not relaxing! I absolutely attribute my positive birth to the Hypnobirthing course that I did with Hannah.
Our baby was 1.8kg and perfectly healthy. While we stayed in the hospital, she spent every night in the nursery and was allowed to come home when she reached 2kg, which happened about 2 weeks later. It was sad going home without her, but we learned so much from the midwives every day when we visited and we knew that the hospital was the best place for her during this time. The best thing I could do for her was to express breast milk and I hired a double breast pump in order to minimise my time on the pump. I used the raising children website which has a page for parents about what to expect in the NICU and that helped us create our own routine around hospital visits that we started to look forward to.
I’m so grateful that my obstetrician suggested Hypnobirthing as preparation for childbirth as I would have otherwise been uninformed and underprepared for labour. For my husband and I, this was easily the best investment we made on our pregnancy journey. I hope this recount gives hope to a prospective mother who finds herself in a similar situation as I know that I sought affirming stories from Hannah’s website and the Hypnobirthing resources at the time when I was at a cross road.
Here we are moments after birthing, Jess and baby Coco :) Photos and birth story shared with permission.